“Dating in Dead World” — Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney’s latest novel, Quarantined, was a finalist for the 2009 Bram Stoker Award. His first book, a zombie novel called Dead City, was recently reissued, and a sequel, Apocalypse of the Dead, will be published in October. A third entry in the series, The Zombie King, will appear in 2011. McKinney’s short fiction has appeared in the zombie anthology History Is Dead, and a zombie anthology he co-edited, Dead Set, was published earlier this year. When not writing fiction, McKinney works as a Homicide Detective for the San Antonio Police Department.

Dating is hard, and that’s under the best of circumstances. Throw in a few unusual complications, and going out on a date can quickly turn into the stuff of nightmares. In the movie 50 First Dates, Adam Sandler attempts to woo Drew Barrymore, only to discover that she’s afflicted by a rare condition that causes her to forget they’ve ever met every time she falls asleep. In There’s Something About Mary, Ben Stiller goes to pick up Cameron Diaz for the prom, only to suffer a horrifying mishap involving a zipper. But at least those guys never had to deal with the situation presented in our next story.

The author says, “After I finish a novel, I’m usually struck by a sort of separation anxiety. So much mental effort is put into worldbuilding and getting to know the characters. So what I usually do is write a few short stories set in the world of the novel I’ve just finished. ‘Dating in Dead World’ was a part of that process.” He adds, “Right before I left for my first date, my dad gave me the only bit of parental sex education I ever received. He said, ‘Remember this, you will be held personally accountable for everything that happens to that girl from the moment she leaves her front door to the moment she walks back in it. Conduct yourself accordingly.’ It wasn’t until after I’d written this story that I realized I was channeling that advice. I guess it took.”